needed to reestablish rules, in order to replace the ones whose collapse led to the outbreak of the war. However the new governments did not manage to reestablish them efficiently, as in many of the countries the police remain militarized and the justice system is as weak as ever. The states’ failure to establish a stable and strict legal system has led to the phenomenon of impunity. Nowadays, punishment for those who perpetrate crime in South America is rare.
The region’s countries included on the Global Impunity Index, from Mexico’s Center for Studies on Impunity and Justice, are categorized as nations of “high” impunity. Because of that, crime is perceived as something “acceptable”, not only by the locals but by the state institutions as well. Those institutions might even encourage it in some extreme cases, if the economic benefits for this are high. However, it is not only the authorities who tend to ignore criminal activity, but the civilians as well. The fear of being punished for reporting a crime forces South Americans to avoid telling the local authorities of the activity they might have noticed.
But even if crimes do get reported, it is very unlikely that there will be big, if any at all, sanctions imposed, since government corruption helps and allows criminals to receive as little punishment as possible for their actions. Figure 5: Impunity rates in Latin American and Caribbean countries Another factor that has possibly contributed to the increase of criminality rates is the fast urbanization of the South American countries in the previous decades. The territory has broken every record in fast urban growth the previous 60 years. That chaotic